Thursday, November 10, 2005

Senatorial Snits

How do these guys sleep at night?
National Pork Service: "Schoolchildren of the future will bend their little brains memorizing Stevens's defense of home-state pork, the transcript of which shall be engraved on the base of the statue. They will recall that after one of the projects, a $223 million bridge from Ketchikan (population 8,900) to Gravina Island (population 50), was mocked as the 'Bridge to Nowhere,' Stevens properly turned the issue into one of virtual civil rights. He recalled the days when Alaska was a mere territory with few of the usual rights of states and said that now, once again, it was being accorded second-class status: 'It will not happen,' he thundered. 'It will not happen,' he bellowed.

The statue of Stevens will note that he was the first senator in American history to take himself hostage. His threat to resign -- an action of vast indifference to all of mankind with the possible exception of the 50 people on Gravina Island -- would have deprived the Senate of a reverse Gold Rusher, someone who came down from Alaska to mine for gold in Washington. His speech, in which over and over he bemoaned the pitiful nature of his state's modest road system, made no mention of how Alaskans pay no state income tax and are awarded a piece of the state's oil revenue. The state is No. 1 in per capita federal aid, which is a tribute of sorts to Stevens's ability to game the system at the expense of us all. The statue's inscription shall, of course, make note of that, too.

But it is his threat to resign -- 'I don't threaten people; I promise people' -- that shall forever be memorialized. It is a model of insistence, of selfishness, of seeing the government no differently than Huey, Dewey and Louie saw their uncle, the fabulously rich Scrooge McDuck. It's not that Stevens did not concede that Louisiana had its needs after Hurricane Katrina; it's just that Alaska alone should not -- regardless of the silliness of its projects -- be the sole state asked to sacrifice. Remember, Stevens said, Alaska has had its catastrophes, too. He cited the 1964 earthquake.

As for the Democrats, they mostly let the matter slide. In that moment, they proved themselves as much a part of this corrupt system as the Republicans who control the government. Indeed, they could have made a production out of the fact that President Bush not only signed the pork package without protest but also praised it for accomplishing "goals in a fiscally responsible way." If there is room on the plaque, this statement should be included. It is up there with anything Daniel Webster might have said."
They really don't care about anything except being in power. They want all the perks, none of the responsibility and still be able to run for another office promising to "benefit the country".

What a crock!

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